Christine Morabito Transcript

Interview with Christine Morabito — a leader of the Greater Boston Tea Party — conducted over coffee at a Starbucks near the Wellington T stop in Medford, Massachusetts on June 17, 2010. Interview Time: 66:24 A.J. Bauer: So, Christine, starting out let’s start with a brief bio. Are you originally from Massachusetts? How did you come to live and work in this area? Christine Morabito: I was born on Long Island and my family moved to Missouri when I was 11. So I went to high school and college there. And I was actually a zoo keeper for 13 years — so I traveled all over the country. AB: I forgot to ask: What year were you born? CM: ‘63 AB: So born on Long Island, raised in Missouri. What part of Missouri? CM: Near St. Louis, about an hour north of St. Louis. AB: My family is from there as well, over the Illinois border — East St. Louis. So did you attend mostly public or private schools? CM: Public. AB: What were your favorite subjects? CM: I loved psychology, which is I think what brought me to my current career — the sciences, English. I have a communications degree, so I did some journalism. AB: So you went to Mizzou? CM: No, I went to — it’s actually called Truman State University now. AB: I know somebody who went there. CM: It’s a cooler name than what was it before, Northeast — I don’t remember what it was called before. Northeast State University? AB: It was kind of a regional name but it got a different name to sound less so. CM: Yeah, it sounds much cooler to say Truman State. AB: A friend of mine who’s a commodities reporter at Bloomberg went there. Cool. So how did you end up switching from zookeeper to psychology? CM: Well, when I turned 40 and I worked with a zookeeper who was 50 I was like I don’t want to be here when I’m 50 years old. It’s a very physical job — you’re outside in the weather. It’s not glamorous at all — I loved it while I did it, but I needed a mature career where I could actually make a living. Because I’d done it for 13 years and maxed out at like $12 an hour — and then there’s no place to go but management, but then you’re not doing what you love. AB: Right, not working with the animals. CM: Yeah. AB: So you turned to psychology because you always had an interest in that? CM: Actually, a man I was dating — his father was a nurse and he convinced me to go to nursing school — I didn’t want to be a real nurse, but when I found out I could work psychology into it and become a psychiatric nurse — that’s what interested me. AB: So, switching gears just slightly — what would you say is your first political memory? CM: It must have been the JFK shooting. AB: And what do you remember about that? CM: I just remember all the adults watching the TV — I didn’t really understand what was going on, but just knowing it was a really big deal. [In a subsequent e-mail, Morabito clarifies: “I was thinking about something I said when you asked me about my first political memory. I think I said it was the JFK assassination. I meant MLK. I was only 6 months old when Kennedy was shot!--doubt if I would have remembered that. : )”] AB: And what’s your history of party affiliation and political activity? How young were you when you started becoming politically aware? CM: Let’s see, I think it was probably in my late 20s that I registered as a Republican. AB: And this was in Missouri? CM: Yep. So I’ve always been a conservative. I actually considered leaving the party when I first got involved with the Tea Party, and sort of really got to the bottom of what’s really going on. And a friend of mine suggested that if I was unhappy with the direction the party was going if I get in there maybe I can help steer it in the direction that — so that’s what I decided to do, and actually got more involved in the party. And I’m on my Republican town committee for Haverhill — which is pretty exciting. And suddenly it’s weird to have this power — I have candidates calling me all the time [laughs]. It’s kind of a weird, a weird phenomenon. AB: So was your family conservative growing up? Or what was your motivation to register as a Republican? CM: I think it was Rush Limbaugh actually. A friend of mine turned me on to him and I realized that I was a Republican, even though all through college I considered myself a liberal because all of my friends were. And I started listening to him and I was like yeah! That’s what I think. AB: So, when did you begin to be politically active? You said you started working more with the Republican Party in Haverhill. Had you done any work with the party before then? CM: No, no. AB: So it’s more recent. CM: It was actually getting involved in the Tea Party that got me more involved on the local level because I realized how important it is. AB: Do you remember the first time you ever voted? CM: Not really. AB: No specific memory attached with it? CM: No. AB: With this latest election were you involved at all? Were you involved in the McCain campaign at all? CM: I wasn’t. No. AB: Did you follow the Republican primaries — was McCain your man throughout? CM: He was by default — but I wasn’t very happy with him. I don’t think he was a very good candidate. But at the time I didn’t like what I was hearing about Obama. AB: What political issues would you say are most important to you — kind of the top handful? CM: Limited government. Entitlement programs is my big issues being in the psychiatric field, I see a lot of abuse and I see how we do a disservice to a lot of these people by getting them dependent on the government. AB: Have your feelings about entitlements changed since you’ve gone into this profession? CM: Definitely, definitely. I also have a couple of family members that are on disability and in my opinion I don’t think that they need to be. AB: So limited government, entitlements, what are some others? CM: Free speech is a big one for me. I listen to a lot of talk radio and there’s a lot of buzz out there about them trying to shut down conservative talk radio. AB: And, what characteristics are important to you in a political leader? CM: Sincerity — if that’s even possible. Listening to their constituents rather than special interests. Doing what’s best for their constituents as opposed to the special interests. AB: Now a slightly more esoteric question: what does the Constitution mean to you? CM: Well, I’m learning more and more about it. I don’t think that — I think a lot of people take it for granted. And when they do that I don’t think they realize when our liberties are being whittled away because they don’t know what we’re supposed to be able to do. They don’t necessarily understand how the Constitution was designed so that government would be limited and people would have more power and states and local levels would have more power. It’s an amazing document. Obviously it’s helped us create the prosperous nation that we’ve been able to become — that we’ve become the envy of the rest of the world. AB: What would you say, and I’m not looking for you to quote chapter and verse or anything... CM: Good. AB: What would you say are its greatest elements and its greatest drawbacks or flaws? CM: I think the greatest element is that when the founders designed it they understood that men could be corrupted by power and I think that’s something that’s timeless. Greatest flaw. I mean I would say that it’s not specific enough about what the government can’t do — but I don’t think it’s possible to list all the things that it can’t do. But that’s allowed people to kind of twist it to their benefit. AB: Switching gears briefly again: What role would you say religion plays in your life? CM: I’ve sort of come full circle. I was raised Catholic and I went through a period where I didn’t want to go to church — when I was in college I sort of rebelled against the religion. I remember being in the car once and telling my mother that I was an atheist just to shock her and she didn’t have any reaction [laughs]. AB: That’s the problem with Catholic mothers, they always know how to get you. CM: And then I felt really guilty. AB: Of course you did. Because of your Catholicism — I was raised Catholic too, I can relate. CM: And then I sort of, it didn’t really play a role in my life for a long time. And now I’ve started to go back to it. I think as I get older and, maybe, my values become more solidified. And I actually went to my first midnight mass last Christmas. And I don’t know why, I was just compelled to go. I really wanted to go to a Catholic — and I’d actually tried some different churches — Universalist and some other non-denominational and I just wasn’t feeling it. And I went to midnight mass on Christmas and, this is going to sound corny, but it was such a moving experience I was almost driven to tears. So I kind of realized that’s where I need to be. Although I don’t attend church all that often, I have my own personal relationship with God. And I’ve also found that in this field of psychiatric nursing — I think that people who have some kind of faith do a lot better. I actually just wrote an article for the blog about an experience that I had with a patient that — I really think a miracle happened there because I don’t think there was any way it could have had the same outcome without some kind of intervention. But I’ve just seen it really help people. And whether it’s true or not, I think if having a belief helps people then I think it’s a good thing. AB: These questions are establishing cultural background, which is why it may be an awkward switch, but what kind of music do you like? CM: My favorite kind of music is — it’s been called a lot of different things. Is it country rock? Is that what they’re calling it these days? Are you familiar with Old 97s? What are we calling that now? AB: Alt-country maybe. CM: The Jayhawks. That kind of stuff is probably my favorite. AB: Yeah. I’m from Dallas — the Old 97s were all over. CM: Aren’t they good? AB: Yeah, I like them. CM: Have you seen them live? AB: No, I haven’t got around to it. CM: Actually, with alternative music it’s funny how we like them more before the get popular. Because I was with them from the beginning and then the last show I went to with them there were hundreds of people there and it sucked. You couldn’t move and you couldn’t make eye contact with the musicians. AB: Yeah, it’s so much better at those small venues. Their girlfriends are still running the merch table and everything. So mostly that alt-country, not so much that new country. CM: Right. AB: And what about books. What kind of books do you like to read? CM: I read mostly non-fiction because I feel if I have time to read I want to learn something. That may sound nerdy. But I feel like I have this ever-growing list of books — especially conservative books that I want to read. And I want to have more background about these issues and about conservatism — so I can make my point and really know what I’m talking about. AB: What are some books that you’ve found inspiring, or books that are really foundational for the way you think or live your life? CM: Atlas Shrugged was definitely a life-altering experience for me. AB: When did you read it? CM: Actually, I read it last summer. AB: So ‘09? CM: Mmhm. AB: And what about it hit you? CM: I guess — I guess most of my young life I had sort of bought into the idea that capitalism was a bad thing. It made me realize that those people risk everything and it’s because of them that we have jobs and that our country is as prosperous as it is. And if you take away the incentive for those people, people aren’t going to have the incentive to risk everything to invent something or create a new product that ultimately improves all of our lives. AB: When you say ‘those people’ who do you mean? CM: The entrepreneurs, business owners. AB: So, Atlas Shrugged — other books that come to mind? CM: One book that I read recently that I thought was really awesome was called, How Capitalism Saved America. AB: Who’s that by? CM: DiLorenzo. AB: Is that a newer book or an older book? CM: I think it’s a fairly newer book. AB: So would you say you read for pleasure or are you mostly doing it for your political activity? CM: I do still find pleasure in it. AB: So kind of a mixture of the two. CM: But I realize now that there are so many things I never paid attention to, like as far as American history goes — world history. There’s so much I want to know more about that it’s just opened up so many doors for me. AB: And what about movies? What kind of movies do you like? CM: Probably comedies. When I think of my favorite movies they’re mostly comedies. Napoleon Dynamite is one of my favorites. What else? Anything with Will Ferrell in it. Who’s the Jewish actor who always plays the same role — Ben Stiller. You know, just silly kind of stuff. AB: Do you watch television? CM: Not really, no. I try to read instead. I just want to — I want my time to be filled up with something that has some redeeming value. There’s so much crap on TV now. AB: I don’t own a TV so I can relate to that for sure. Switching back to the more esoteric questions: What does it mean to be an American to you? As an identity. CM: [long pause] Wow. That’s a tough one. [pause] I guess I’m realizing more and more how fortune I am to live in this country. I’ve been able to do some world travel and I’m planning to do more of that. I’ve been to Mexico and Peru and seen the way that probably most of the rest of the world actually lives, and realize how fortunate we are and how we take that for granted — all the freedoms that we have and how you can make anything, anything of your life. You’re not limited as far as what you can do with your life. AB: And, kind of the inverse of that question, what does it mean to be un-American or what is something you would define as un-American. CM: You mean behavior wise? AB: It could be behavior wise or just maybe values or, if you were to use the term un-American what are some values or behaviors that you would assign to that, perhaps? CM: I think attacking capitalism would be un-American because that’s what has allowed us to be as prosperous as we are and has allowed us to be able to provide aid to other countries, which we do more of than any other country in the world. AB: This is the hard stretch, we’ll get to some easier questions in a minute: Do you feel a stronger cultural connection to your country, your state, religious group, ethnic group, class or some other kind of group? For example, if somebody said, who are you? CM: I guess to my country I’d probably feel more of a connection. I’ve moved around a lot so I don’t have a lot of local ties, and my family is all over the place, so yeah more a national connection I guess. AB: Now to some easier questions. Where do you get your news today, primarily? CM: Mostly talk radio. AB: You mentioned Limbaugh earlier, who are some of your other favorites? CM: I like Glenn Beck although sometimes I listen to him and I want to stick my head in the oven [laughs]. AB: I’ve heard that from a number of people, actually. Just to parse that out a little — what about Glenn Beck requires small doses? CM: Well, it can be really overwhelming when you realize all the stuff that’s going on — and we’re being bombarded lately. And I don’t know if that’s by design, but we’re being bombarded with a lot of different legislation and policies that are coming down the pike — and I think he uncovers a lot of things that you aren’t going to hear anyplace else. And it can be really overwhelming because you don’t know — you just think there’s nothing I can do; it’s just hopeless. He can be inspiring as well. I’ve seen some of his simulcast programs — you know where they have them in movie theatres and you go and watch. He can be very inspiring too. He’s kind of corny and he cries a lot but you can’t help but like him — if you’re a conservative that is. AB: So Beck, Limbaugh, anybody else? CM: Some local guys — Todd Feinberg I really like, Howie Carr. AB: Would you say you listen to more national or local? CM: With my schedule now it’s kind of hit and miss — I flip around to a lot of the different stations, so probably more local. But I also go online and I subscribe to a lot of different online blogs and things like that. AB: What are some Web sites or blogs that you tend to frequent? CM: The Heritage Foundation, Michelle Malkin, Drudge Report. Those are probably the most. AB: Those are like the top three? CM: Yeah. AB: Before the Internet, or even before talk radio, where did you get your news, if you recall? CM: I didn’t really pay that much attention; I really didn’t. AB: You say got into Limbaugh, he was your first — when around was that? Kind of early in his career? CM: It was in the ‘90s, yeah. AB: And so you mentioned that as kind of a formative experience. Would you say that your political interest has kind of followed or, not followed, I forget what I was going to say. So was talk radio kind of your in-point into conservative politics? CM: Yeah, yeah. And it’s not that Limbaugh changed my mind, but he just made me realize that I should be proud to be a conservative — and I’d worked in a lot of really liberal fields — in the zoo field; I have a lot of very liberal friends, and that’s been difficult. But I think that, because I wonder if I’m going to lose their friendships because politics is so divisive these days and, you know, with Facebook they see everything that I post. But I feel like I have some credibility with them because they know me — they know I’m a decent person; they know I’m not some kind of freak. So being in the Tea Party gives them some pause before they say, before they call us names, because, I mean, they know who I am. I haven’t changed — hopefully they don’t think I’ve changed. AB: That’s interesting you bring that up. I think you’re about the third person I’ve talked to that’s mentioned something about Facebook in particular or being fearful of friends turning against you or de-friending, especially as a result of Tea Party affiliation. CM: Yeah. AB: What’s sort of behind that do you think? Why do you think that there’s that perception of the Tea Party — I guess what’s behind the fear? CM: The media has really painted us in a bad light — called us names and I was reading a blog recently or, no you know what it was our picture was in the paper from the Scott Brown rally — it was in the Herald yesterday. I shouldn’t have gone on and looked at the comments to the article but I couldn’t help myself. I saw several references to “Teabaggers.” And somebody said, don’t you think that’s a derogatory word, why are you using that. And they were debating the fact that those words are interchangeable now — Tea Party and Teabagger. And I don’t know if they’re just ignorant to what it means, or, but it’s bizarre. And a lot of our media people, who should be held to a higher standard, are using language like that. AB: So you think the media paints the movement in a bad light and so that kind of displaces onto you since you’re someone who affiliates — that’s what you’re worried about. CM: Yeah. And this administration has made a lot of attacks against the Tea Party as well. AB: This actually transitions very well into my next question — what are your general opinions of the news media? CM: Besides Fox I don’t have a lot of — I’m not a big fan of the other stations. MSNBC, I can’t even — I try to make myself watch it just to see what we’re up against. Like it’s on at the zoo — at the zoo, I mean it’s on at the gym [laughs]. AB: Close. Gym and zoo are very close [laughter]. CM: I try to make myself watch it, because I have to do something while I’m — but I just can’t do it because they can’t go — in the half hour or hour that I’m on the treadmill I see Glenn Beck’s picture, Sarah Palin and Rush Limbaugh. It’s like, they need some new material — it’s like they’re constantly bashing the three of them. And I mean in a way that makes me realize that they must consider those people a threat or otherwise they wouldn’t keep hammering at them — but it just really gets old. AB: What do you think about — what are your general opinions about journalists? CM: I think there’s a trend these days for journalists to be inserting their opinions — which maybe it’s always been that way, I don’t know, but I’ve been interviewed a lot at Tea Party events and some of the so-called journalists want to debate you and I don’t think that’s what they should be doing. AB: Would you say your opinions of the media and journalists have changed since you became involved in the Tea Party movement? CM: Definitely, yeah. AB: In what way? What were your perceptions before joining and then after having more contact with them? CM: I guess having a communications degree, I almost — I didn’t really do the journalism route. I worked at a TV station, so I did more of the TV kind of stuff. But in my journalism classes I always knew those people were very liberal. So it’s always bothered me that they injected their personal views into the news stories. So, but I think just because of my experience I’ve always seen that, so I’ve always known it was there. But it’s really been apparent lately since I’ve been involved in the Tea Party. AB: Especially someone who has taken journalism classes, which is something not a lot of people have taken, why do you think the media pursues — so your critique of the media, basically, is that it has a liberal bias against the conservatives. What do you think is behind that? What do you think is behind, I guess, that bias? CM: I think it’s our education system. I think a lot of our teachers are liberal and it just sort of — that’s the way they grow up because that’s what they’re hearing all the time and I don’t think it’s anything insidious. They think everybody thinks that way. AB: And when you were growing up what kind of media did you have in your family — did you watch a certain one of the big three or do you have any memories of that? CM: Not really. My parents weren’t particularly politically involved; I never heard them discuss politics or the news really. My parents worked a lot so we didn’t spend a lot of time as a family watching TV or anything like that. AB: How and when did you first become aware of the Tea Party? Was there a last straw or a turning point that got you interested? CM: I can’t remember what brought me to my first Tea Party, but I first got involved on April 15 of 2009 — I just couldn’t believe it; I was overwhelmed being surrounded by so many people who felt the same way, especially having so many friends that were liberal. I always knew I didn’t quite agree with my friends, but I always felt like some kind of freak — like why don’t I agree with all this stuff. The Tea Party just welcomed me with open arms and I just feel so much camaraderie. It’s a really amazing group to be a part of. I mean when you know walking into the room that everybody shares the same values it’s a pretty amazing thing. Basically the same values. AB: So two follow up questions: the first one is, you say you have a lot of liberal friends and were questioning why don’t I feel the same way. Have you found an answer to that? What do you think is the basis for your conservatism? What do you think it’s rooted in? CM: I have to chalk it up to education — the more I educate myself, the more I know about the issues, I think the more conservative I get. Whereas a lot of my liberal friends, they’ll start to make an argument about some issue and then they don’t have any facts to back up there — you know what I mean? I just feel like they’re just repeating things they heard other people say. And I think that’s why — I’ve seen this happen on Facebook, even some of my liberal friends, when they can’t win an argument the get very defensive and tend to resort to personal attacks. I’ve lost a couple of friends that way. And I’m perfectly happy to debate anybody on the issues, but you can’t start name-calling and calling people ignorant of history and things like that. That just shuts down the debate. AB: So, you said your first even was the April 15, 2009. That was the rally, right? CM: Yep. AB: And did you show up with any friends? CM: Nope. AB: Or just solo? CM: Yep. AB: Did you just meet people there and then go from there? Or how did you get more involved? CM: I met some people in the general vicinity; we started talking and some of us exchanged information. And then we’d say are you going to the next rally. I went to the March on Washington, which was the most amazing experience. AB: When was that? CM: That was September 12 of 2009. AB: Oh, so the 9/12 rally. CM: Yeah. AB: And how did you find out about that? CM: Through Glenn Beck. AB: How did you get to the point — you’re on the steering committee right? CM: Yeah. AB: How did you get involved more organizationally with going to events and things? CM: Let’s see, the next Tea Party we had was the July 4 Tea Party and we had — I met Brad Marsden. AB: I think he’s the one I haven’t met actually, I’ll have to e-mail him. CM: He’s running for state rep in the Cambridge area. AB: That’s probably why I haven’t met him — he’s probably too busy to come to meet-ups. CM: He’s been to a few of our events. But he — I didn’t know this until later, but he and Christen organized the April 15 Tea Party and then Christen wasn’t available in July or didn’t want to do it or something, so I offered to help him. So I was the, what did he call me, the speaker wrangler. AB: For that July 4? CM: Yeah. AB: So you got involved and you kind of knew them form going to April 15th and meeting them at that? CM: I don’t even know how I met Brad. It’s such a blur. I think maybe because I had joined the Tea Party and, I know, he was sending out e-mails and looking for people to help with the event and I just stepped up to the plate. AB: So thinking back to November 2008 — what was kind of your mood and impressions whenever the election took place. Was it something where you said immediately that you need to get more active or was it something that happened gradually? CM: It was gradual — I mean I was depressed. I’m not a big McCain fan but I didn’t like what I was hearing about Obama and I was worried about his liberal record. But I mean a president’s not supposed to have that much power where that should really matter that much, but I think because we have such a one-party government right now that he’s been able to do a lot of things that I don’t think he should be able to. But then, I mean it bothered me that a lot of things about his past were overlooked and then — once the election happened I was willing to give him the benefit of the doubt. I thought he’s our president, I’m going to support him. And I was perfectly willing to do that. But then as time went on and he started pushing some of these liberal policies I started to get more concerned. AB: When did you start watching Glenn Beck? Did you watch him on CNN ever? CM: No, no. I think it was just about the same time I got involved in the Tea Party; I just started — you know you go to events and they’re like you need to listen to this guy. AB: Kind of word of mouth. CM: Yeah. Yeah, because I never knew who he was before. AB: When you say things about Obama’s past were overlooked, what were some of the bigger things from the past that were bothersome? CM: His very liberal voting record, when he voted; he voted, what do you call it when they don’t cast a vote at all? AB: Present, non-voting. CM: Yeah, he did that quite often on very controversial things. His issues on partial birth abortion bothered me. His relationship with Reverend Wright and Bill Ayers. Plus the fact that he’d never really run anything — he was a community organizer, and I didn’t really know what that meant, but it sounded pretty liberal to me. AB: What would you say are the main values of the Tea Party movement? CM: Limited government; well basically our mission statement, limited government, free speech, free markets, individual liberty and personal responsibility. And at the Tea Party the other night somebody asked how do you look at a piece of legislation and know — it’s really pretty simple, if you apply those principles to any piece of legislation and policy you can decide whether it’s something that a conservative would be in support of. AB: The Tea Party movement really clearly reaches back to — I mean with its name and everything — to this origin story of the American Revolution. What do you think is the importance of that within the movement itself? The fact that it ties itself to that moment, as opposed to other conservative organizations, why do you suppose the Tea Party movement reaches back to that? CM: I guess it’s the bravery of those men and knowing what they had to lose — I mean it didn’t start out as them wanting to be independent. It started out as, I mean, you know, they just didn’t want to be taxed without representation, it didn’t start out with them wanting to become their own entity. But, I think they realized that was the only way that they were going to get the freedoms that they wanted. The fact that they risked everything and they lost their lives; they lost their reputations, some of them; they lost businesses, homes. I mean, so anything that I do pales in comparison and I think when it became apparent what we have to lose, and these things are just being whittled away little by little, that people don’t notice it. And I think the next generation isn’t even going to know the difference. AB: What do you think are, when you say these things are being whittled away, what do you think is most frightening or what are the things you’re most worried about? CM: They’re just regulating and legislating us to death. You know, the fact that now they want to ban salt in restaurants — they’re just getting involved in such ridiculous things that — I mean, liberals believe that every societal problem can be solved by the government enforcing a law, and that’s not what this country is about. I mean at some point you have to take responsibility for yourself and the decisions you make, the health decisions that you make in terms of things you eat. And I think if they had their way they’d legislate all of it. AB: What about the Tea Party do you think the media consistently gets wrong or misses? CM: Well, Austin said something funny the other day, he said it’s funny how we can simultaneously be called rednecks and what was his term? AB: Ivory tower; I was there. CM: Yeah, did you hear that? AB: Yeah. CM: I thought that was really profound. AB: I was confused when he said that actually, and I’d love to hear your explanation of it. I’ve never heard anyone refer to the Tea Party movement as Ivory Tower. CM: Well, you know, they say that we’re — well I guess because we’re pro-capitalist? AB: Okay. CM: And a lot of big business would support us — some of them say that we’re shills — that we’re being paid to be there by corporations, which is just ridiculous. So I guess in that respect. AB: I see what you mean. So, you say that statement — kind of elaborate a bit more of how Austin’s statement exemplifies what the media is getting wrong. CM: I don’t think they take the time to get to know us. I doubt that a lot of people reporting us have ever met somebody in the Tea Party — because if they ever came to one of our events they’d see that we’re just normal people, you know? But the fact that they — it just makes good TV for them to show somebody holding an Obama is Hitler sign. You probably know, those are the LaRouche people, they aren’t even Tea Party people anyway. But it doesn’t make for good television to show some middle aged person holding a sign and clutching their Constitution, so I guess that’s part of it. We get painted as wackos and extremists. But they’re going to zoom in on the most controversial poster that they can find in the crowd, you know. AB: So, I’m going to do kind of a word association kind of thing, and if it doesn’t work it doesn’t work, we’re just going to play around with it. I’ll just say a word and you tell me what it evokes for you, what it makes you feel. ‘Democracy’ is the first word. CM: Well, it’s weird because I think most people are under the impression that we’re a democracy and we’re actually a representative republic, so the term ‘democracy’ can imply mob rule in a way — because the majority of the people might agree on something, but it can be totally wrong. I mean just because everybody agrees they should lynch somebody doesn’t mean it’s right. It’s sort of a dangerous thing. AB: The next word is ‘freedom.’ CM: [long pause] Where do you start? America. Yeah. And there’s a reason that people are flocking to this country — that they’re risking their lives and getting in boats. They’re not doing that to go to any other country. So if we’re so horrible, why would anybody want to come here? AB: Kind of a follow up to that one, you say ‘if we’re so horrible’ what are you responding to there? CM: The sort of emerging ‘blame America,’ which Obama has perpetuated, going around and apologizing for us. And I don’t think I’ve ever heard him make a statement about how great this country is. AB: And why do you think that is? CM: I just think it’s the liberal mindset. AB: So the next two words are very similar but: ‘free market.’ CM: I think it’s been a long time since we’ve actually had a free market. The government is so entrenched in every industry. And then — when things fail they can say see the free market doesn’t work. But I believe it’s because of government involvement that causes it to fail. AB: What about ‘capitalism’? CM: Jobs. Prosperity. Opportunities. AB: So it sounds like you equate ‘capitalism’ and ‘America’ — they seem pretty equatable, is that true? CM: Yeah. AB: And the last word I have on my list is ‘welfare.’ CM: Ugh. AB: Perhaps the easiest one? CM: [pause] Well, as I mentioned before I think we do these people a disservice, and they don’t realize it because a lot of people are happy to sit back and let somebody else do everything for them — but they don’t realize that it makes them a slave in a way. Like my sister, I mentioned, is on disability. And I feel like she has no choice but to support the people who are keeping her in this dependency because she wouldn’t be able to survive without those entitlement programs now. And it’s really sad because we grew up in the same household — our parents were very hard working, they didn’t raise us to depend on other people. So I can’t help but think that she must be conflicted in some ways. AB: What do you think, without getting into too many details — I mean I don’t need to know the details of her disability or anything — but what do you think would happen if the government wasn’t providing that role? Do you think the market would take care of that role? How do you see that shaping out? CM: If government wasn’t providing welfare? AB: Right. Because you said that she has no choice but to follow politicians that are providing that service. I guess what would be the other option there. CM: What would she do? AB: Yeah. CM: Well they’ve made it very easy for her to do nothing, and she’s very capable of doing a lot more. She’s made herself a victim. She claims that she has no use of her hands, which a lot of my family has questioned. She also didn’t follow through with physical therapy because she can sit back and have everything done for her — but if she didn’t have that option it would force her to. And she’d feel better about herself — these people don’t have a reason to get out of bed in the morning. They don’t get that satisfaction at the end of the day of a job well done. AB: So, do you — what role has that played in your political formations — that you have people that you know, that you have witnessed could be doing better? I mean, it seems that there’s this connection between the personal and the political being very closely tied, do you feel that? CM: Definitely. Because it’s frustrating being in the field that I am — I see a lot of people that seem to be capable of a lot more and they’re just kind of stuck. They’re never going to get out of it. And I think that their lives could be a lot better if they had some sense of purpose and something to make them feel productive — they could do something! I mean some of our patients have enough energy to be up at the desk constantly, [laughing] bothering us, so there’s something that they could do to feel productive. AB: So the last question that I have — is there any question that I didn’t ask or anything that I should have asked or anything that you would like to say that wasn’t included under one of the questions I did ask? CM: There is one thing. One thing that the Tea Party gets accused of often, and it’s almost like people are just repeating something that they’ve heard, and that’s — where were you when George Bush was creating a massive government? And my answer to that is that, personally I trusted George Bush, I thought that he was a conservative. And I wasn’t really involved back then, I didn’t know what was going on, I didn’t pay that much attention, so I think that helps with their argument of painting us as racists — oh it’s just because he’s a black president, oh it’s just because he’s a liberal. But since that time my opinion of George Bush has changed and he was responsible for a lot of the problems we’re having now, and he vastly expanded the size of government. AB: It’s interesting that you bring that up, and it’s a question I’ve struggled over whether to ask or not, because I’m not really focusing too much on the political part of it — but, so do you think that it was kind of the ‘R’ after Bush’s name was kind of a false sense of security, that people just didn’t, you know, think he must be on my side and now that it’s a Democrat it’s a different criticism or a different critical eye? How do you see that taking place? Like you said — something about the last 18 months has caused people to get involved, whereas during the Bush administration, not really that involved. What do you think has caused that involvement? Is it merely a party identification issue? CM: It’s more than that, it’s a radical agenda that really scares the crap out of people — it causes people to say you’ve got to be kidding me. They want to do what? And Obama’s made no bones about the fact that that’s what he wants to do — he’s not being subtle about it at all. AB: Was there a particular Obama policy that convinced you that he’s going too far? CM: The health care debate, definitely. And the fact that they were ignoring things that most experts were saying would go to great lengths as far as helping solve the problem. You know, tort reform they won’t even touch, which being in the medical field is huge — I can’t even tell you how many hours I spend doing paperwork that’s just to keep from being sued and the doctors have to run all kinds of tests — I mean I see it every day. Every day I see something that’s like, and we wonder why health care is so expensive. It’s just so much waste. AB: I remember, I didn’t catch all of it, but there was something where Obama was surrounded by Republicans — there were Republicans, I don’t know if there were Democrats too — it was some kind of hearing that he held, it was televised. And the Republicans were throwing out ideas and one said tort reform and Obama actually said that he would be willing to doing tort reform in addition to the rest of the things. Do you feel, or what are your thoughts on that by the Republicans saying no we won’t work with you scrap the whole bill, do you think that if they’d played ball a little bit more that they could have gotten tort reform into the law as well? CM: I don’t know. I just got the impression that they were going to push it through no matter what — I mean they basically just said that. And the fact that we can’t buy — I mean lowering costs — one great way to lower costs is to increase competition. When we can’t buy insurance across state lines, which we can do with just about anything else that we can buy, just seems ridiculous to me. And those two things just seem like no-brainers to me and they’re not even discussed in health care reform. And why people think that the government can take on something like that and do it better than the private sector, I just don’t understand that. AB: So other than the distinction between the Bush Administration, that question. Is there anything else? I mean you mention the racist accusations. Why do you think they’re spitting those accusations at you? CM: I think it’s just laziness. Because they know — that’s like the worst thing that you can call somebody. It’s kind of their default accusation, that’s what I think anyway. — Interview conducted by A.J. Bauer —

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